Showing posts from March, 2007

Talabani lashes out at US occupation

Surprising that Talabani speaks of an occupation. The US of course now considers itself as being present in Iraq at Iraq's invitation and UN approval. It uses these figleafs regularly. Of course one might wonder if Iraq is a sovereign nation why it cannot protect Iranians seized from Irbil or even have them released! It cannot even control US forces or control US jails in Iraq. Why does not this sovereign nation release to the press the new oil law and have a national debate about it before it passes parliament?

Talabani lashes out at US policy in Iraq under 'occupation'
March 30, 2007

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani attends the Arab summit in Riyadh on 28 March. Talabani has said that the US-led invasion of his country four years ago had turned into an occupation with dire consequences for Iraq.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Thursday that the US-led invasion of his country four years ago had turned into an occupation with dire consequences for Iraq.

Talabani, a…

Ethanol gas has no cleaner emissions than regular gas

Although this test is limited in nature it shows that the benefits of ethanol in gasoline are probably over-rated in terms of the environment. Of course the subsidies will help ADM and corn farmers!
To be fair it would make sense to test cars that run on pure ethanol and gasoline.
However, there is also the whole issue of whether there is much if any savings of energy at all if ethanol is made from corn. There apparently are more savings if it is made from other sources such as sugar cane as happens in Brazil.
These factors do not even consider the point that Castro brings up: should a food crop be diverted to be used as fuel.

Ethanol auto emissions no greener than gasoline: study
Last Updated: Friday, March 30, 2007 | 8:18 PM CT
CBC News
An unpublished federal report appears to undermine the belief that commercially available ethanol-blended fuel produces cleaner emissions than regular gasoline.

Many Canadians believe filling up with ethanol-blended gasoline reduces the emission…

Intel Vets on Iranian capture of Brits.

Certainly the situation is dangerous and liable to escalation by either side. With US presence in the Gulf and even in the same disputed waters if the US wants a casus belli it can easily manufacture it or provoke Iran into providing one. The Revolutionary Guards seem to act independently of the Iranian govt. at times and they may even generate an incident without the US or UK doing anything more than what they are already doing namely asserting the right to search vessels within waters that Iran regards as its territorial waters. I guess it is not surprising that the naval officer involved should describe the situation in much more objective terms than Blair.

From: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Brinkmanship Unwise in Uncharted Waters

The frenzy in America’s corporate media over Iran’s detainment of 15 British Marines who may, or may not, have violated Iranian-claimed territorial waters is a flashback to the unrestrained support given the administration’…

Fighting rages in Mogadishu

This is hardly surprising. As long as the US is involved only through its proxies the Ethiopians it will be on the back pages of newspapers. There is no mention of African peacekeepers in this post. The government and Ethiopians and also the rebels I guess seem to have no compunction about using artillery in the city. The fighting will create another huge refugee problem.

Fighting in Mogadishu rages for 3rd day
By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN - Associated Press Writer

MOGADISHU, Somalia --Fighting raged for a third day in the Somali capital Saturday as government troops and their Ethiopian allies continued a major offensive to quash a growing insurgency by Islamic militants.

Artillery fire and mortar shells rained down on the capital, sending residents fleeing some of the heaviest fighting in Mogadishu since the early 1990s.

On Friday, insurgents shot an Ethiopian helicopter gunship out of the sky and mortar shells slammed into a hospital, leaving corpses piled in the streets and wounding hundreds …

Iran May Skip Talks unless US releases six detainees from Irbil raid

THe Iraqi government has also asked for the release of the detained Iranians but heck don't the Iraqis know who is boss?

Iran May Skip Talks on Iraq If U.S. Keeps Six Detainees
Thursday, March 29, 2007; Page A15

Iran may not send a delegation to a key meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, tentatively planned for next month, unless six Iranians detained by the United States in Iraq are released, a senior Iranian official said yesterday.

The meeting on Iraq's future, planned for Istanbul or Kuwait, is a follow-up to a lower-level meeting held this month in Baghdad. The State Department hopes the meeting will provide a venue for Iraq to engage Iran -- as well as Syria and other key players -- on efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki would face serious internal pressure not to attend a high-level meeting with the United States in light of the impasse over its military and diplomatic personnel, said the Iranian official, who spoke on the cond…

Gwynn Dyer: Iran-How to Start a War

Not only is the suggestion that the US would have fired on the Iranians provocative but the US has already created a provocation by raiding the quasi-consulate in Irbil and almost getting into a firefight with Kurds at the Irbil airport when they attempted to apprehend another Iranian. The Iranians have already made it clear that they may boycott the upcoming conference on Iraq security if the Iranians are not released. The Iraq government has called for their release but where is the new coverage and outrage about the US provocation? It is the arrest of Britons in disputed waters that causes all the chatter in the media.

Iran — How To Start A War

By Gwynne Dyer

03/30/07 "Jordan Times" -- - -“I don’t want to second-guess the British after the fact,” said US Navy Lieutenant-Commander Erik Horner, “but our rules of engagement allow a little more latitude. Our boarding team’s training is a little bit more towards self-preservation.”

Does that mean that one of his American boarding …

In South Korea poverty and gap between rich and poor is growing

I am sure that the trend exhibited here is not just evident in South Korea. However, South Korea is often thought of as doing very well and hence people think that there will be less poverty. The gap between rich and poor is also growing in the US.

Poverty nearly doubled in the last decade

Economic disparities rise to record high as the rich get richer

With the middle class fast deteriorating, the nation`s poor population has nearly doubled in a decade to 2006, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs said yesterday.

The state-run think tank said the "poor" class, defined as those earning less than half of the average national income, accounted for over 20 percent of the total population last year, up almost 9 percentage points from 1996.

The middle class tumbled to 43.7 percent last year from 55.54 percent a decade ago, indicating that about a quarter of middle class households were financially crippled over the decade.

But the "rich" class, defined as thos…

The bigger the house the worse the CEO!

Maybe companies should start giving bonuses to CEOs for reducing their house size!

from SLATE moneybox

Haunted Mansion
A study proves that the bigger his house, the worse the CEO.
By Daniel Gross
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007, at 6:17 PM ET

The last two bubbles—the dot-com bubble of the 1990s and the
real-estate bubble of this decade—have combined to create a new
culture of real-estate voyeurism. Thanks to Internet-based services
and the digitization of public records, real-estate obsessives can
check out how much friends and neighbors paid for their homes
(, how much said homes might be worth (Zillow), and what
those homes look like from above (Google Earth).

These developments have been a boon to real-estate agents, would-be
flippers, celebrity trackers, and all-around busybodies. Now, thanks
to two finance professors who have examined the extreme home-buying
habits of some of America's wealthiest individuals, they could be a
boon to stock pickers, too. Robin Leach, meet Peter Lync…

US mortgage delinquencies

There is more on this with graphs at this site.

Here's the news we've been expecting, from CNNMoney:

A record high number of homeowners faced a serious threat of foreclosure during the fourth quarter of 2006, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association...

Troubled mortgage holders rose across the board: The delinquency rate for one-to-four-family houses rose to 4.95 percent of all loans outstanding compared with 4.67 during the third quarter and 4.70 percent 12 months earlier.

All major loan types contributed to the increase, but subprimes and FHA loans were up the most.

Bush and the Fadhil Bros. Blog: A Tangled Web

This is from the bushoutblog The article is an excellent analysis of the payment for psychwarfare material. No doubt there will be much more of this but this is clear evidence it is already well advanced into the blogosphere. Maybe I am on the wrong I see sites such as and information clearing house begging for funds but if you are on the right side (pun intended) you can get govt. grants under the table. Of course only the right that sides with Bush will get funded.

Bush Cites Fadhils For Proof Of "Success" In Iraq!

When the President of the United States of America is reduced to quoting propaganda nonsense fabricated by his own neocon supporters, that's pathetic.

When he does so specifically in order to justify failed policies which continue to see dozens, if not hundreds, dead every day in Iraq, that's worse than tragic. It's criminal.

Here's what President Bush just said today:
The missions I described are only the opening salvos in w…

Paul Krugman on ethanol

This is from the New YOrk times via
Krugman mentions the lack of net energy production and also the contrast with Brazil that produces ethanol from sugar cane. No one mentions corn as food production as Castro does. Of course Krugman is not voted into office and so does not run in Iowa either.

The Sum of All Ears, by Paul Krugman, Corn Cop-Out, Commentary, NY Times: For those hoping for real action on global warming and energy policy, the State of the Union address was a downer. There had been hints and hopes that the speech would be a Nixon-goes-to-China moment, with President Bush turning conservationist. But it ended up being more of a Nixon-bombs-Cambodia moment.

Too bad... The only real substance was Mr. Bush’s call for ... ethanol to replace gasoline. Unfortunately, that’s a really bad idea. There is a place for ethanol in the world’s energy future — but that place is in the tropics. Brazil has manag…

McCain's flip-flop on Ethanol

This comes from this website.

Castro doesnt need to run in Iowa so I guess he is safe! The corn farmers and the big grain companies profit from the subsidies for ethanol production. Whatever happened to the beloved free market! How is it the World Bank and IMF get after Iraq for all those below market subsidized prices for gas but the US can subsidize ethanol?

John McCain’s Ethanol Flip-Flop
I knew that McCain had flip-flopped on this issue. The upcoming issue of Fortune tells the tale:

McCain's farm flip

It's a pretty good lesson on how tough it is to oppose ethanol and get yourself elected president, since Iowa has one of the first presidential caucus. So, despite McCain's long track record of criticizing ethanol, suddenly it's the thing to do.

Some excerpts from the article that I found interesting:

John McCain has a problem with alcohol - ethyl alcohol, to be precise.

Ethyl alcohol is the fuel better known as ethanol, and over the years, the Arizona senator has made a h…

Castro on Ethanol

Some environmentalists agree with Castro but often the critique of ethanol use especially made from corn is that net energy gain may be small or even negative. It is not clear how in the US using corn for ethanol displaces corn grown to feed the worlds poor and makes their situation worth. Unless the US govt. subsidizes corn production to feed the worlds poor it would not be produced for their consumption anyway. Strangely enough Bush does not even mention the subsidies that the huge grain companies such as ADM get from US agricultural policy. I have also posted a couple of other articles on this issue to complement this one.

From Monsters and

Americas News
Castro ends 8-month silence to slam US ethanol plans (2nd Roundup)

Mar 29, 2007, 19:59 GMT

Havana - Ending eight months of silence, ailing Cuban President Fidel
Castro published an article in Cuban state media Thursday criticizing
US environmental policies, and in particular plans to boost the use of

'The sin…

Incident at Iranian consulate in Basra

Who knows what happened. There are no reports from reporters at the scene it seems.
Iran is probably fortunate this is a UK controlled area. The US would probably invade the consulate and take the staff prisoners as at Irbil.

Britain denies troops surrounded Iranian consulate in Basra and fired shots
The Associated PressPublished: March 29, 2007

BAGHDAD: At a critical period in the crisis over Iran's seizure of 15 British sailors and marines, the Iranian consul in Basra charged that British soldiers on Thursday had surrounded his office in the southern city and fired shots into the air. Britain denied the allegation.

The Ministry of Defense in London said the shooting was an exchange of gunfire after British troops on a foot patrol near the Iranian consulate were ambushed.

But Iranian Consul-General Mohammed Ridha Nasir Baghban said British forces had engaged in a "provocative act" that "could worsen the situation of the British sailors."

"British forces should r…

Beijing Review: The US China trade surplus

This is from the blog China and Socialism. but is originally from the Beijing Review. Perhaps if China paid its workers better wages and improved working conditions its export goods would be more expensive. They would not export as much and this would help reduce the trade surplus but workers would have more spending power and hence local consumption would increase.

A Trade Off

Beijing Review vol. 50 no. 7

February 15, 2007


China's growing trade surplus has become a major concern for some of its major trade partners, such as the United States and the European Union. As the latest statistics from China's Customs Administration suggest, while the country's export growth rate fell 1.2 percentage points and that of imports rose 2.4 percentage points, the total surplus grew $75.59 billion last year to hit a record high of $177.47 billion. This proves to be a direct cause of friction between China and these trade partners. By the third quarter of last year, 70 cas…

Tension between Britain and Iran increases

As the article mentions many in the UK media do not think that Blair has heightened the confrontation enough. If the US had been involved the situation could have been out of control from the start. Perhaps that is what the US hoped for. Again as the article mentions the US would fire. You have a large US and UK fleet in war game exercises right near Iraqi waters, an invitation for an incident real or imagined.
Although Iran claims the detention has nothing to do with the US capture or Iranians in Irbil from a quasi consulate it would seem natural to take it as such.

Britain heightens confrontation with Iran over detained sailors
Fri, 2007-03-30 01:50
By Peter Symonds – World Socialist Web Site

The Blair government, backed by the Bush administration, yesterday stepped up diplomatic pressure for the release of 15 British sailors and marines detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG) last Friday. In an already tense situation in the Persian Gulf, US aircraft carrier battle grou…

Amy Goodman on David Hicks Trial

I wonder if her optimism about Guantanamo closing is justified. Of course even if it closes the US will still lease it in perpetuity and not return it to Cuba. Cuba does not recognise the lease and refuses to cash the yearly payments but fat lot of good that does!

American Kangaroo Court Claims Its First Victim

By Amy Goodman

03/28/07 "ICH " -- -- It is appropriate that a person from Australia, home of the kangaroo, should be the first one dragged before the kangaroo court at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. David Hicks, imprisoned there for more than five years, pleaded guilty Monday to providing material support for terrorism.

The case of Hicks offers us a glimpse into the Kafkaesque netherworld of detentions, kidnappings, torture and show trials that is now, internationally, the shameful signature of the Bush administration. Hicks’ passage through this sham process affords us all an opportunity to demand the closure of Guantanamo and an end to these heinous policies. Co…

Taking the war on terror on line.

This is from USA today. The comments on the article don't even bring up the legality of attacking terrorist websites nor do they show any inkling of the complexity of the issue. What are terrorist websites? Who decides which should be attacked and on what grounds. Almost no comments address the valuable intelligence information the sites provide--probably the main reason they are not already attacked.
Among those listed as terrorist sites by the State dept are: Hamas, Hezbollah, but also several Jewish extremist groups. The latter are no doubt regarded as legitimate in Israel and Hamas in Palestine and elsewhere and also Hezbollah. If terrorists attack websites it is cyberterror but if the US intelligence does it I guess it is supposed to be OK.
Actually hackers have already attacked some terrorist websites but attacks are common on all sorts of sites even Yahoo. Who knows for what reason. A US based Marxist archives suffered an attack from China! I guess the Chinese govt. fea…

Iranian TV broadcast video of sailors and marines.

The US and UK and wester media regularly showed pics of detained Iraqis and of course they showed photos of Hussein in degrading situations. I guess the lady was glad for a smoke break! I wonder if the navy instructs them to say what the captors want when captured? I expect the stories will change when they are returned as I am sure they will be eventually.

Iranian TV broadcasts video of detained British sailors, marines

Nasser Karimi
Canadian Press

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Faye Turney, 26, the only woman amongst the British navy personnel seized by Iran, appears in this image made from television, in footage broadcast by Al-Alam, an Arabic-language, Iranian state-run television station, in Tehran, Wednesday March 28, 2007. Wearing a white tunic and with a black headscarf draped loosely over her hair, Turney said "Obviously we trespassed". (AP/APTN/Courtesy of Al-Alam)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian state TV showed video Wednesday of the 15 British sailors and marines wh…

Pepe Escobar on the Capture of UK sailors

It seems that this could be a very dangerous game for Iran to play. It is true though that there has been almost no western criticism of the US nabbing Iranians in a quasi consular facility in Iraq and there has been no movement to release them. This also was a dangerous game that almost led to a shootout at Arbil (or Erbil?) airport with Kurds.

British pawns in an Iranian game

By Pepe Escobar

03/28/07 "Asia Times" - -- - The 15 British sailors and marines who were patrolling the Shatt-al-Arab - or Arvand Roud, as it is known in Iran - were not exactly indulging in a little bit of Rod Stewart ("I am sailing/stormy waters/to be with you/to be free"). They had their guns loaded. These would certainly have been fired against Iraqi smugglers - or, better yet, the Iraqi resistance, Sunni or Shi'ite. But suddenly the British were confronted not by Iraqi but by Iranian gunboats.

This correspondent has been to the Shatt-al-Arab. It's a busy and tricky waterway, to sa…

Juan Cole on McCain

This is just a part of a much longer article at Cole's website. Cole has a good analysis of the positive spin that McCain has been putting on events in Iraq.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

McCain Checks into Cloud Cuckooland
116 Iraqis Killed in Day of Carnage

Senator John McCain has contracted Rumsfeld's Disease. This malady consists of a combination of bad temper, misuse of language to obfuscate reality, and a Panglossian optimism in the face of stubborn, sanguinary facts on the ground.

McCain, for instance, hailed that deployment of Iraqi brigades "at or above 75% of their programmed strength"! Put another way, a quarter of the Iraqi troops ordered to Baghdad technically speaking went AWOL instead! If a quarter of all US troops ordered to Iraq fled to Canada or refused to leave their home base, that would be a catastrophe. But McCain manages to deploy weasel words to make this incredible statistic seem a positive thing. Moreover, even his basic facts may be wrong. Last I …

Russia Criticizes US Global Policy

Both China and Russia will resist US attempts to impose even tougher conditions on Iran although both are also upset by Iran's refusal to stop enrichment. Iran and Russia are having troubles with respect to building of the new Iranian nuclear facility. However the sale of defence missiles to Iran shows Russia is willing to help Iran fend off a US or others who might attack.

Russia slams U.S. global policy
Associated Press
MOSCOW - Russia's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday criticized the United States for what it called over-reliance on force and warned Washington against military action against Iran.

But in a major review of foreign policy priorities, the ministry said Russia was ready to cooperate to end global crises if Washington treats it as an equal partner.

The statement reflects Russia's growing confidence and economic clout, and appears to be a signal to Washington that, while the two nations can work together, Russia will not always follow the U.S. lead. …